Seagram’s Willowbank distillery in Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand has been closed since 1997, a casualty of the implosion of that once glorious global company. A few hundreds of casks were sitting in a warehouse, and 443 of ready to market casks were bought by Greg Ramsey, Troy Trewin, and Tom Holder, Australian investors who formed The New Zealand Whisky Experience.
I have so far tasted five of the company’s expressions, and some of them have been outstanding. There is now a 25 year old, I hope to taste soon.
At the Whisky Show, I had my first dram when I met up with my buddy Erik Burgess, who is a northernized Kiwi and Brand Ambassador for New Zealand Whisky Collection (@TheWhiskyKiwi), and he poured me a delightful dram of the 1993 Single Cask which was one of the most classic ex bourbon cask products I have had. The Barrel came from Four Roses, is clearly a first fill and had a very strong influence on the whisky.
The New Zealand Whisky Collection 1993 Single Cask (#32) (55.4% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Deep gold, sluggish thin legs.
Nose: Very fresh, strong vanilla and honey, with creamy malt under. Classic bourbon cask effect.
Palate: Absolutely concurrent with the nose with sweet vanilla, honey, light spices (mostly pepper and hits of cardamom).
Linger: Long and peppery, with honey lingering on the tongue.
Crisp and clean, very fresh, like a cold winter morning in the Southern Alps.
Had I wanted to teach someone (I really liked) what a great bourbon cask does to whisky, this is the one I’d choose.